A group of bipartisan community volunteers met for the first time last Thursday night to begin laying the groundwork for a long-term community plan for the county.

Held at New Beginnings Assembly of God, this summit of community partners was conceived by Commercial Bank Vice-President Mark Strother and Pastor Kyle Burchett.

Burchett was specifically inspired to bring this group together based on his participation in the recent alcohol sales vote in Grayson.

“One of the things I saw coming out of the alcohol vote is that, regardless of where we stand on certain issues, there are a lot of people that are passionate about helping Carter County be all that it can be,” Burchett said.

“I know that if we can find common ground, there’s no limit to what we could accomplish,”

The group’s initial focus is broad in scope, aiming at efforts to help develop a positive business climate, create diverse employment opportunity, offer small business development support, youth support, after school and summer activities, and other community-based cooperative leadership ventures.

Lori Garkovich, a professor at the University of Kentucky and community development consultant was on hand at the meeting to help spur ideas and create an action plan on how to achieve these shared goals.

“Basically, I’m here to help you cultivate a shared vision of the future of this community,” said Garkovich.

Several prominent community members also attended the meeting, including KCU President Dr. Jeff Metcalf, Sen. Robin Webb, Rep. Jill York, and numerous others.

Metcalf expressed his intent for KCU students to become more Grayson-focused in their service projects, as well as his desire to see more members of the community making use of the various services and amenities that the campus has to offer.

“We have numerous events going on throughout the year, such as concerts and plays. Memberships to our life center are also available to anyone in the community for a reasonable price,” Metcalf said. “We want to see more people from the surrounding areas on our campus.”

Though the meeting was intended to discuss goals for the entire county, those attending were mostly comprised of Grayson area notables, a disparity that the group plans to remedy by inviting community organizations in Olive Hill to participate in shared community planning.

Strother closed the meeting by informing those in attendance that plans are already underway for a multi-week, county-wide summer festival in 2014, as well as a scheduled community partner summit in August.

Joe Lewis can be reached at jlewis@journal-times.com or by telephone at 286-4201.

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